I will climb the Haʻikū Stairs, aka Stairway to Heaven, this week for the 286th time.

My most recent post on Instagram @Hawaii_Mountain.Man.Matt gives an idea for one impactful photo angle.

6 things about stairway:

(1) It is the safest way to reach the summit. People die every day falling downstairs at home, but in 70+ years no one has died falling on the stairs. There has been one death - a heart attack.

(2) I clean the stairs every three days on average, but it builds up fast. To make it convenient to pack trash out, bring a trash bag so you don’t soil your bag.

(3) Please dont poop anywhere on the mountain - even off the beaten path. Squat over a one-gallon ziplock bag, toss the wipes in, press the air out, double bag it and pack it out - just like a kid’s diaper.

(4) Take it easy on the neighbors.

When was the last time you woke up at 3am and whispered: "Honey I think there's someone outside the house"...?

Most locals are friendly, but some are understandably aggressive. Blood has spilled over this hike more than once in the past year.

(5) Plan your hike and hike your plan.

The most common Haʻikū Stairs story is:

“We went to bed at 11pm, woke up at 2am and tried to get in. We got caught by police before we reached the stairs, so we went back to the hotel and slept. We really wanted to see the stairs up close, so we decided to try the ‘back way’. It was harder than we expected, and when we got to the top we decided to take the stairs down because we would rather get the ticket than die.”

a. The ‘back way’

If you are considering skipping the magic of the stairs and going the legal way, it only makes sense to choose companions who can manage the challenges of retuning down the back way as well. You can get the ticket going down the stairs.

Legal access hours to Moanalua Valley Trail are 7am - 7pm. I recommend starting right at 7am because it’s reckless to rush on the mountain. It’s common for people to get lost a few hours, and some don’t find the summit.

If you want sunrise, I recommend beginning at noon and spending the night. As long as you don’t sleep inside the railing or access the trailhead out of hours, you’ll be legal. The mountain is usually cold, wet and windy, so prepare accordingly. The ground is especially cold - bring an insulating mat.

I recommend hiking cleats (‘good’ hiking shoes are insufficient), a GPS device, cautious confidence, and enough internal fortitude to enjoy this day of your life, rather than just survive it.

Note: keeping the stairs illegal endangers the public. Tearing them out, as currently proposed, permanently removes our ability to channel traffic safely. If the stairs were legal, Daylenn Pua would still be here.

b. The stairs.

If you’re considering the stairs, it is important to be personally and professionally prepared for legal exposure, and know which actions increase that risk.

The financial setback can be anywhere from $3,000 to the loss of a career. I recommend handling this decision carefully.

Send me a message at Facebook.com/MatthewKievlan for some advice there.

(6) Linger in the mountain.

People think I go for the epic view, but when we go, they slowly begin to recognize their own reflection in nature. They resonate with the energetic blueprint of a place so majestic, and discover new light to admire in their soul. As we climb, energy begins to grow in us and melts our physical senses, opening us to sense spirit. We become immersed, perhaps because we’ve stepped “into” the experience 3,922 times as we move from civilization into a little heaven

After a while at the top, our group fades into shock (in a good way) and stays that way for the rest of our journey. Like a broken record, every time I hear: “We researched it, but we could have never guessed it would be so good. ‘This’ makes it so much more than a hike.” Always with smiles - sometimes in tears.

Most visitors get to the top, take photos, and head back down. I suggest staying for the ‘main event’. The magic begins when you settle in with comforts, and look back on your work while still in the environment of it.

We create space with good scents and music and soak in the bliss of it. We write our names, share our stories and sit on memory foam eating French Toast with warm maple syrup.

If you leave the top and start down right away, the noise of civilization drowns out your senses and erases the fragile nuances of new truth you found along the way - before those memories have time to settle into your heart.

Reflection in-space is the actual gem of this priceless experience. We change lives up there. Even after so many times, I haven’t gotten tired of it. Once we start up again, I’m lost on it too.

Dm me for a video of what we do at the top.

Aloha,
@Hawaii_Mountain.Man.Matt